8 ways to better listen to your employees

8 ways to better listen to your employees

When it comes to motivating your employees and retaining personnel, nothing beats active listening. Here are 8 tips on how to do it well.

Active listening is an asset for any good leader.

Active listening improves the quality of your communications with your personnel.

Active listening is the difference between hearing and listening. Listening refers solely to the sense of hearing, whereas active refers to your willingness to listen.

Here are 8 ways to master the skill of active listening.

1. Avoid all distractions

When you aren’t focused on what a person is saying, you’re implying that what he or she is saying isn’t important.

Eliminate distractions (especially a smartphone). This will help you focus all your attention on what your employee is saying. You will also be able to observe the subtleties of their non-verbal communication.

2. Decode non-verbal communication

Communication is far more than a sequence of words.

Facial expression, tone of voice and posture are also part of it and must be decoded.

When an employee contradicts him or herself, be sure to ask for clarifications and explanations.

3. Take a break

Discussions that feel like a ping-pong match are never the most enlightening.

Avoid preparing a response before your employee has even finished speaking.

Moments of silence (3 to 5 seconds) don’t have to be awkward, use them to think.

Moments of silence have 3 advantages:

  • They reduce the risk of interruption, which is very respectful.
  • They give worth to what the other person is saying.
  • They make you more attentive and help you pick up on the nuances of your discussion.

4. Clarify

Don’t let ambiguity slide.

If you don’t fully understand what the other person is getting at, ask them for explanations immediately.

Ask questions. Rephrase and repeat until you understand what the other person is trying to say.

Avoid all misunderstandings.

5. Maintain eye contact

Look your employee in the eye.

Specialists agree that eye contact should be maintained 60 to70% of the time.

6. Ask open-ended questions

A yes-or-no question is likely to lead to a dead end.

By asking open-ended questions, you better control the conversation and imbue the other person with confidence.

7. Don’t judge

Avoid labelling and categorizing employees.

Every employee is different and doesn’t deserve to be stereotyped.

Keep an open mind and set your preconceived notions aside. Be empathetic and respectful. Put yourself in their shoes to better understand where they are coming from.

8. Use reflection

If you feel that the conversation is heading toward a dead end, apply a technique called reflection, which consists in identifying how this is making the other person feel.

This means focusing on what the person is saying AND how he or she is saying it.

For example, when an employee says, “I’ll never be able to reach the objective you set for me.” Answer, “I understand that you were unsuccessful in reaching this objective. Is that causing you a lot of stress?”